Birdwatching North America with Birdingpaltours

  • If you are you an independent birdwatcher, who does not care for large group tours, then Birdingpaltours is for you
  • Our tours are flexible, safe and the use of a local guide lets you participate in the planning
  • A local guide knows all the hotspots and you get the most out of your trip
  • You select the date and length for a trip to suit yourself
  • If your time is limited, we’ll design a tour to fit your needs
  • A professional Birdingpal guide can customize your tour, and you will see the birds you want.
  • Your guide is also your travel companion, who will make sure you experience the native people, scenery, culture, history and food, first hand.
  • You will enjoy the advantage of all the attention you get in a small group, for the same price or perhaps even less, than you will pay if you travel with the large tour groups from other countries
  • Remember, the next time you travel, you do not have to miss the birdwatching if your partner or travel companions are non birders; a local guide is flexible, and will easily accommodate other needs too
  • Hiring a Birdingpal guide will boost the local economy and help protect birds other wildlife and their habitat

Birding Arizona with Melody Kehl

There are many reasons to hire a professional Birdingpal guide.
1. Often times when traveling, one has a very limited time to find birds. With a professional guide, you can decide which birds you would like to see. Your guide will know when, where and how to look to maximize your time and effort.
2. You can customize the area you would like to bird in.
3. The date is up to you. Also, how long you would like to bird each day and how many days you would like to spend birding. Would you like to take a day of rest in between? Do you wish to bird long hours or perhaps shorter days fit your needs better?
4. Do you have a non-birding spouse or friend? A Birdingpal guide has knowledge in many areas and can accommodate more than just birds. Small groups are a distinct advantage.
5. Most of all you get the advantage of a truly local guide who knows all the little nooks and crannies to look for birds, not just the ones in the local Lane Guide.
Melody’s Birding Adventures has been guiding since 1991. We are well organized, (and)have excellent references. Our pricing is reasonable and often times much more affordable than the big touring companies. Every tour we offer is customized to meet your needs. Small groups and personalized service are(our) specialties.

About Southern Arizona:

From high Desert to the Rocky Mountains, southeastern Arizona is one of the most biologically diverse areas in North America. This is where the Sonoran and the Great Basin deserts come together. This is also where the temperate Rocky Mountains and the subtropical Sierra Madres meet. This diversity of habitat is the reason we have more species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects than any other area in the country. There are 547 species of birds on our list and we don’t have a shoreline. With the Mexican border along our southern edge, the potential for Mexican rarities just adds to the excitement. Birds like the Elegant Trogon, Buff-collared Nightjar, Five-striped Sparrow, Mexican Chickadee, Red-faced Warbler, Buff-breasted Flycatcher and Thick-billed Kingbird are specialties of Arizona. As a testament to the region’s diversity many areas have received attention under the National Audubon Society “important bird areas” (IBA) program.

"Cactus Wren"

Arizona actually has four seasons for birding: spring migration (March and April), summer (May, June and July), fall migration (August and September) and winter (November and December, January and February. Spring and Fall birding can produce 12 species of Hummingbirds, 10 species of Owls, lots of Warblers and Flycatchers. Winter birding is excellent for Thrashers, Mountain Plover, Sandhill Crane, over 20 species of Sparrows, and all our other resident species.

Travel Tips:

When traveling with Melody’s Birding Adventures, physical fitness is not a must. Most people can do most trips: but be sure to indicate your fitness level when signing up for a tour. We do cater to any special needs.
Be sure your shoes are thoroughly broken in. Hiking boots are recommended for our terrain. Always hike at your own pace. Dress comfortably, in layers, carry one more item of clothing than you expect to need. Neutral colors are best if you want to see wildlife. Avoid white and black and please do not use perfumed lotions or potions as animals have extremely sensitive noses. Weather is generally mild with temperatures ranging from the 60's to the 90's. Because we have so many mountain ranges, if it gets warm in the valleys, we head to the high country and drop the temperature by about 20 to 25 degrees.
Snack, beverages and lunch are included as needed for your adventure.
Since our climate is so very dry (usually around 10% humidity), a hat, sunscreen, eye drops and lip balm are recommended. A water bottle is appreciated. We try to be a green company and are trying to eliminate the plastic water bottles. We always carry plenty of cold water to refill your bottle. Drinking lots of water is a must.
Be sure to apprise your guide of any physical limitations you have. Border safety is an ongoing issue. The media seems to over-state any problems. We are always cautious as one should be, but we are generally safer along the border, than going to the mall after dark. For our after dark adventures, we have extra security with us. A GPS Tracker is standard equipment in case of medical emergencies or car trouble when out of communication.
Anyone can enjoy an adventure. Just be sure to bring along a spirit of adventure, a sense of humor and a flexible attitude.

Southern Arizona in Spring and Summer

Madera Canyon: Madera Canyon is one of the best birding destinations in the United States. We start birding in the grasslands and work up about 2000 feet to the oak woodlands. There are over 250 bird species documented in the canyon, highlights include, fifteen species of hummingbirds, Elegant Trogon, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Painted Redstart and Arizona Woodpecker. Such rarities as Brown-backed Solitaire, Aztec Thrush, Crescent-chested Warbler, Flame-colored Tanager and Eared Trogon have been seen in this mountain range just south of Tucson. After dinner in the canyon, we will spend the evening looking for a few owl species and the newly split species, the Mexican Whip-poor-will.
Lunch and overnight B&B Tuscon.


Dudleyville and the Santa Catalina Mountains: Heading north up Highway 77, we will visit a small town in hopes of great birds. Here the San Pedro River flows into the Gila River creating a desert oasis. Mississippi Kites nest here each summer. Add Black Hawk, Black-chinned Sparrow and Gray Vireo to round the possibilities. From here we will head to the
Santa Catalina Mountains: Located on Tucson's north side, the rugged Santa Catalina Mountains in Coronado National Forest are Tucson's most prominent range with the highest average elevation about 9,000 feet. Our visit starts in the desert looking for Curve-billed Thrashers, our state bird(delete,) the Cactus Wren and many other desert specialties. Leaving the Saguaro cactus we start up the mountain to the boreal forest, traveling the equivalent from Mexico to Canada. Warblers are the main targets today. This range offers the most accessible views of our specialty Warblers, the Grace’s, Olive, Virginia and Red-faced Warblers. This is also the place for Mountain Chickadees and Pygmy Nuthatches.
Patagonia: Our first stop on this day is at Paton’s Hummingbird Haven, the premier place to find the rare Violet-crowned Hummingbird. From there we will take Blue Heaven Road along the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy. Gray and Zone-tailed Hawks are common along this road. This is the place to find Flycatchers, the rarest being the Thick-billed Kingbird. It is possible to see up to 20 species of flycatchers in this area. Next is a stop at the world famous Patagonia Rest Stop. Although the Rose-throated Becards are no longer being seen here, it is still worth a stop for the wrens and the kingbirds.
From here we will head to Kino Springs for more kingbirds and maybe a Yellow-billed Cuckoo and some Varied Buntings.

"Gambel's Quail"

Huachuca Mountains: The Huachuca Mountains offer some of the best hummingbird viewing in Southern Arizona. Up to 14 species are possible in just one day. This is also the best place to view the Buff-breasted Flycatcher. Our visit will take us to Huachuca Canyon for Elegant Trogon and Spotted Owl. Then we take the wonderful(scenic) drive up to Carr Canyon, the most reliable place to view the Buff-breasted Flycatcher. We finish our day at the Hummingbird viewing areas in the lowers canyons.
Chiricahua Mountains: Mexican Chickadees are the targets today. This is the only place in the United States accessible to these little chickadees. In addition, the Short-tailed Hawks have decided to call this area home. They have been nesting for the last five years in this beautiful and historic mountain range. The birding areas around the small community of Portal are excellent. We will stop at the historic and very birdy George Walker House. Along the way we may have a chance to see the “mythical” Montezuma Quail.

"Western Kingbird"

California Gulch: This is an evening of entertainment in the truly wild outdoors. Five-striped Sparrows are found in this canyon, again a true Arizona Specialty. This is also a great area for Varied Buntings and Northern-beardless Tyrranulet, nesting Gray Hawks and just maybe a Black-capped Gnatcatcher. This is one of the best places in Arizona for the mythical Montezuma Quail. After the sparrow, we have a leisurely supper as we watch the sun set and the moon rise waiting for the Buff-collared Nightjar (maybe). Then, Elf Owl, Western Screech Owl and Common Poorwill will serenade us.

White Mountains: 3 days, 2 nights.

From Tucson, the White Mountains are about 250 miles north. This range of mountains is the second highest within the boundaries of Arizona. It has many streams and lakes. The elevation ranges from about 6500 feet to over 11,000 feet. Much of the area is in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest or on the Apache Indian Reservation. Specialty birds of the area include the western Three-toed Woodpecker, Dusky Grouse, Pine Grosbeak, Pinon Jay, Clark’s Nutcracker and Lewis’ Woodpecker and the gorgeous Williamson’s Sapsucker.
Leaving from Tucson, this can be used as an extension to widen your Birding opportunities in Arizona. We can do the Dudleyville day as we head up 77 toward Show-low and through the Salt River Canyon (a mini-Grand Canyon). On our final day our return route take us just over the state border into New Mexico making several birding stops along the way.

Southern Arizona in the Winter with Melody Kehl

San Rafael Grasslands: Bordered by the Canelo Hills on the north, the Huachuca Mountains to the east and the Patagonia Mountains on the west, this is one of the most pristine high grasslands in Arizona. The main targets in this scenic wonderland are the Baird’s Sparrow, Chestnut-collared and McCown’s Longspur and White-tailed Kite. This is also a great place to look for Sprague’s Pipit and Arizona Grasshopper Sparrow. Over 20 species of sparrows are possible today.
Sulphur Springs Valley: Cochise Lake is the Willcox effluent pond which hosts a huge variety of wintering shorebirds and ducks. It is known for its rarities and is checked often in the winter. We will stop and check the area on our way to Whitewater Draw for the Sandhill Crane spectacular. Whitewater hosts thousands of Sandhills. These birds come in from the field for an afternoon siesta. It is truly a sight to behold . . . thousands of loud, trumpeting birds coming in waves and landing in front of you.
Buckeye for Thrashers: Located in the middle of some of our driest desert, this is the home of the LeConte’s Thrasher. Some of his fellow denizens are the Crissal Thrasher, the Bendire’s Thrasher and the Sage Sparrow. Often times, we can add the Curve-billed and Sage Thrasher for a true thrasher bonanza. We travel north towards Phoenix and spend the morning in this desert oasis for the thrashers. The rest of the day will be spent birding in Santa Cruz Flats for Mountain Plover, lots of raptors and sparrows.

Pre-trip Information:
Cost is based on how many days you choose to bird. Remember, each of our tours is customized to meet your needs. You may choose to make your own arrangements or we will be glad to do that for you. A written proposal will be submitted as soon as we know what your desires are.
We are based in Tucson and prefer you base here, also.
A deposit of $50.00 for each day you book is appreciated. This is refundable up to sixty days in advance.
The balance is due thirty days before our adventure and is non-refundable except in cases of emergency.

Convert your tour cost into your currency of choice.

For more details please send a message to Melody.   

Birding guide Melody Kehl, your local Birdingpal guide
I have been leading professional birding and nature tours throughout Arizona since 1991. A long time Tucson resident; I am simply an avid birder who just loves to bird-no excuse needed Leading hundreds of tours in Arizona over the years and presently guiding over 200 days per year is an amazing privilege and pleasure. Birding by ear is my strength. I have a degree in Music Education which has served me well in the field. As an amateur naturalist, I have intimate knowledge about Arizona’s other flora and fauna and current environmental issues. I am active in the birding community and donate my time guiding for the Tucson Audubon Society, as well as other non-profit groups. I am an extra class ham radio operator to insure we have communication when in the field. Southeast Arizona is my backyard. It is where I sleep, eat and live with the birds, a truly LOCAL guide who knows how and where to look for the birds. Sharing with you my love of birds is my reason for living. Whether you need one day in the field to locate your nemesis bird or wish to spend several days to enjoy a more comprehensive tour, are obsessive or casual , Melody’s Birding will customize your tour to meet your needs.

Guide books and CD's recommended:

Dunn, Jon L. and Jonathan K. ALDERFER. National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of Western North America. National Geographic, 2008.
Harrison, Hal H. A Field Guide to Western Birds' Nests. Houghton Mifflin, 1979.
Peterson, Roger Tory. A Field Guide to Western Birds. Houghton Mifflin, 1990, Third Edition.
Sibley, David Allen. The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America. Knopf, 2003.
Stokes, Donald and Lillian. Stokes Field Guide to Birds - Western Region. Little, Brown & Co., 1996.
Udvardy, Miklos D.F. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Western Region.
Brown, David E. Arizona Game Birds. Arizona, 1989.
Brown, David E. Arizona Wetlands and Waterfowl. Arizona, 1985.
Corman, Troy E. and Cathryn Wise-Gervais. Arizona Breeding Bird Atlas. University of New Mexico Press, 2005.
Glinski, Richard L., Editor. The Raptors of Arizona. University of Arizona Press/Arizona Game and Fish Department, 1998.
Rappole, John H. Birds of the Southwest: Arizona, New Mexico, Southern California and Southern Nevada. Texas A&M, Natural History Series No. 30, 1999.
Radamaker, Kurt, Cindy RADAMAKER, and Gregory KENNEDY. Arizona and New Mexico Birds. Lone Pine, 2007.
Rosenberg, Kenneth V., OHMART, Robert D, HUNTER, William C. and Bertin W. ANDERSON. Birds of the Lower Colorado River Valley. Univ. of Arizona, 1991.

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Bird Recordings from Arizona

Bird Songs of Southeastern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

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Last update 20/02/2014